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The Child Inside

December 19, 2020
Capuchin Retreat
Christmas wreath hanging on a door

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

In the “secular” seasonal song, “The Christmas Song,” it says, “So I’m offering a simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two . . .” and it goes on to wish us a Merry Christmas. “Kids from one to ninety-two” includes just about everybody. All us kids.

It seems to me that the things that touch us about Christmas tap into feelings and memories that begin in childhood, where we first learned about Christmas. For children, it starts with the externals: Christmas trees, lights, Santa Claus, “getting” presents, cookies, candy. But if our family was at all religious, soon the basic meaning of the day is woven into the whole picture: the birth of Christ.

Much of my feeling of Christmas is about music, starting with the classic carols. My Mom played the piano and I can still remember the carol book she used at the piano. I imagine I sang along. But there is something nostalgic about Christmas music, especially the religious kind, which tugs at me, and I never tire of it. I’m sure this tugging taps into childhood memories, as well as experiences I have had since.

I would guess that, as we get older, we can become a bit jaded, and tend to set aside “the things of a child.” I would caution against that. I suggest that, at Christmas time, when we get a vague feeling of nostalgia, warmth, a touch of joy, that we pay attention to that and give in to it. Such thoughts and feelings can lead us to further thoughts of the birth of Christ into humanity, and a call to express the Christian qualities of kindness, charity, good will, and true caring for others.

Our world badly needs those expressions toward all our brothers and sisters. They are childlike, but also mature in the best sense.

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